Health Tip – Exercise Gratitude

by Jim Hayes, Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

January 2017 – The turning of the year provides an opportunity to look back with gratitude for all that has given us life in the past year, and to direct that positive energy into our communal and individual resolution to make 2017 an even better year.

I’m a big believer in the nurturing of habits and virtues. Through the habitual exercise of virtues we value, we can make them a more integral part of who we are. Gratitude is certainly one of those virtues for me. If we take one minute each day to ask the question: “What was I grateful for today?”, we nourish our ability to face future challenges.

If you’re a visual learner, search YouTube for the video of Shawn Achor entitled the “Happiness Challenge.” Here’s a link:

Achor’s thesis is that grateful folks are happier in the long run and often engage others more deeply as a result of the insight that each moment is a precious opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Here’s a summary of his 21 day happiness challenge:

  1. Reflect on three things you’re grateful for each day.
  2. Journal on one thing for which you’re grateful.
  3. Exercise (even a five minute walk will do it).
  4. Meditation/mindfulness (even two minutes of sitting quietly helps).
  5. Perform a random act of kindness. I find a quick note to someone for whom you’rE grateful is a great exercise of this.

I am grateful to begin my tenure at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center and to be working with such a great group of people. May your 2017 be filled with abundant experiences and people that will provide you with a grateful heart.